Tuesday, September 16, 2008

North Federal Savings Public Hearing Wednesday

Docomomo-chicago.midwest reminds us that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks will be holding a public hearing on Wednesday, September 17th on the proposed designation of the North Federal Savings and Loan Bank, now Diamond Bank, at North Avenue and Clark Street.

The structure was one of a group of sixteen bank buildings proposed for landmarking last year. It is the only modernist design among the group, and the fact that only now is a public hearing being held would indicate that the designation is meeting resistance.

I've written before about Murphy and Naess's 1961 design, and caught some flak from those who didn't think it worth preserving, but now I'm even more convinced it demands protection. The brief describes the building as being influenced by Gordon Bunshaft/SOM's iconic Manufacturers Trust building on Park Avenue in New York. As opposed of the traditional fortress-like models used for banks, North Federal stresses openness and transparency, with the interior of the bank - and its functioning - clearly visible from the street. A floating second-floor mezzanine stresses the container-like aspect of the black steel frame into which the light curtain wall is set and recessed. To call North Federal a jewel box is no understatement. Almost perfectly intact, it is a wholely unique piece of Chicago's architectural heritage.

The hearing will be held Wednesday at 9:30 A.M., at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle, Room 201-A. Further information, including street and e-mail addresses, and phone numbers where expressions of support can be made to commissioners and 42nd ward alderman Vi Daley can be found on the docomomo-chicago.midwest website here.


The Urbanophile said...

It's certainly a solid, workmanlike structure. How many similar buildings are in Chicago?

Anonymous said...

I like the design and intention - but c'mon. Its a freaking eyesore. I live a block away and everyone wants it gone. Its a turd only loved by people who dont have to live with it's blight every day.

Isaac said...

I also happen to live very near by and this building is a non issue. No one notices it, and it isn't appealing, interesting or especially insightful. I don't demand that it be destroyed, but specifically preserving it seems like a stretch. Then again, is a fast food restaurant going to take its place? Maybe we better keep what we have, lest we regret the change.

Anonymous said...

This building is a modernist classic. I live about 5 blocks away, and see it and walk by it almost every day. Despite the recent crude entrance canopy and poor landscape detailing, the elegance and simplicity of the structure is undeniable. Not only does it work as a bank, but could also easily be converted to an office use, retail, or numerous other posiibilities.

Tear it down and replace it with what? Another scary precast condo building? Another 5/3 Bank branch? This corner deserves this building, and Chicago deserves this building...it must be preserved as a great example of its time.


Anonymous said...

I don't know whether this helps with landmark designation but the building was also an early target of the Weather Underground. During the Days of Rage riot they smashed up the place a bit.


Unknown said...

Its not a turd, buts its certainly not something worthy of landmark designation. Would it suck to see it go and an Arby's rise in its place? Sure. Would it be a tragedy, a blow to great architecture and the preservationist movement? Surely not.

Anonymous said...

As a kid I remember seeing the boarded-up windows after the SDS busted them in '68.